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Can a Wife Force Her Husband to Move Out?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 19 May 2017 |
 
Divorce Separation Grounds Family Home

Q.

My daughter in law has decided she no longer wants to be married to my son (for no good reason other than she is fed up). They have 3 year old twins. He is a fantastic father and does not wish to leave his home (that he jointly owns) and boys. Has she the right to make him leave prior to any legal separation or divorce?

(J.S, 6 July 2009)

A.

I was saddened to read that your son is in this situation with his wife and two young children. As for the question of whether your daughter in law has the right to tell your son to leave – the answer in short is no. Your daughter in law would need to get a solicitor, and go to court to obtain an order to force your son from the family home.

Valid Grounds for Divorce

You have mentioned that your daughter in law is merely ‘fed up’. This is not a valid ground for divorce unless your son was willing to accept that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. There are five ways that this can be proven:

  • One spouse has committed adultery
  • One spouse has behaved unreasonably
  • One spouse has deserted the other for a minimum of two years
  • Both spouses consent to separation and have remained separated for at least two years
  • One spouse has decided to separate from the other spouse (without the other’s consent) for a minimum period of five years.
As your daughter in law may soon discover, it isn’t merely a matter of becoming fed up and deciding unilaterally to bring the marriage to an end.

Children and the Family Home

If your son decided that his marriage had become unbearable so that he chose to leave voluntarily, that would not have any effect on his ownership of the property – he would still be the joint owner.

In the event that your daughter in law does decide to pursue divorce proceedings, the court has wide ranging powers in relation to visitation rights and what happens to the family home. If the worst does come to the worst, your son has legal rights in relation to maintaining contact with his two children.

Marriage Help

It may be worth suggesting (obviously without wanting to look as though you’re interfering) that your son and his wife could try to address their problems, either by approaching Relate (www.relate.org.uk) or another marriage guidance service. Using this type of service is not a sign of weakness in a marriage, rather that the two people involved are adult enough to want to work together for the sake of their marriage and their children. If your daughter in law has left it until she is ‘fed up’ with the marriage before telling your son she feels this way, they may as a couple benefit from improving the way they communicate with one another.

I really hope that your son and daughter in law can address their issues without having to resort to separation or divorce.

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MARTHA - 28-Apr-17 @ 9:53 PM
ONE BROKEN HEARTED D - Your Question:
I live in my farther in laws house and have a tenancy agreement which is in my name and my wifes name I have been married for 6 years with two children who are 6 & 10 in that time my wife has called the police on me 3 times the latest episode was last week her reason being that I am violent and abusive towards her I have never been so and yes and there is no evidence to the fact yes we do argue and say some nasty things but I don't consider that to be violent or abusive most couples argue from time to time.I am a house husband since I lost my business in 2015 and was made bankrupt the same year I keep the house tidy and take my children to school and pick them up make sure they are fed clean and happy while my wife goes to work and when she comes home have dinner ready for her I am also main carer for our youngest so who has learning disabilities.My wife has told me I have to leave the house as she does not want to be with me anymore I know and realize my marriage has broken down and cant see anyway back but I love my children too much and don't want to leave them and just be a part time farther I am also concerned with my wifes mood swings as she has been nasty towards the children and her dad who lives with us this has been going on for some time both myself and her dad has asked her to go and get some counselling for these mood swings but she refuses to do so my wife holds down a very responsible job but when she comes home she is totally different due to her mood swings I also have no where to go and no where to live if I have do go but my farther in law tells me he would not make me homeless and I don't have to leave.Could you advise me on my rights in this situation or point me in the right direction to get some help.Yours hopefully one broken hearted dad

Our Response:
I cases such as this, it’s always better if you and your wife can come to some agreement about the way forward. For instance, who will live in the house, who will become the primary carer of your children, who is going to take care of your children if your wife has to work. In principle, if you are both on the tenancy agreement, then you both have rights, please see CAB link here. If your relationship has no way of getting back on track, then trying to talk the situation through rationally with your wife should help, and if you cannot agree on a solution then mediation may be an option to consider. On another note, if your wife has called the police regarding alleged domestic abuse then she can apply for an occupation order. An occupation order temporarily excludes someone from their home, but your wife would need to show the court that it's appropriate for you to be excluded. For example, she may have to show that there's a risk of harm to her or your children, please see CAB link here. It is best all round that the situation doesn't come to this as it could also affect future access to your children, if domestic abuse becomes/is the cause of your separation. You may wish to take some legal advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help.
DivorceResource - 25-Apr-17 @ 10:27 AM
I live in my farther in laws house and have a tenancy agreement which is in my name and my wifes name I have been married for 6 years with two children who are 6 & 10in that time my wife has called the police on me 3 times the latest episode was last week her reason being that I am violent and abusive towards her I have never been so and yes and there is no evidence to the fact yes we do argue and say some nasty things but I don't consider that to be violent or abusive most couples argue from time to time . I am a house husband since I lost my business in 2015 and was made bankrupt the same year I keep the house tidy and take my children to school and pick them up make sure they are fed clean and happy while my wife goes to work and when she comes home have dinner ready for her I am also main carer for our youngest so who has learning disabilities . My wife has told me I have to leave the house as she does not want to be with me anymore I know and realize my marriage has broken down and cant see anyway back but I love my children too much and don't want to leave them and just be a part time farther I am also concerned with my wifes mood swings as she has been nasty towards the children and her dad who lives with us this has been going on for some time both myself and her dad has asked her to go and get some counselling for these mood swings but she refuses to do so my wife holds down a very responsible job but when she comes home she is totally different due to her mood swings i also have no where to go and no where to live if i have do go but my farther in law tells me he would not make me homeless and i don't have to leave . Could you advise me on my rights in this situation or point me in the right direction to get some help . Yours hopefully one broken hearted dad
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prrocket121 - 7-Apr-17 @ 12:57 AM
Hi my wife won'ts me out of hour coucel home I have four kids with her . But I do not won't to leve my home and my kids. I have full time job and pick kids up cook for them and clean the house as she at uie or as a lot uie work to do . I have no were to go and I will miss my kids so much what what do I do
Maxie - 31-Mar-17 @ 11:08 AM
Broken - Your Question:
My husband has been using heroin for 2 years and I have had a very hard time coping with his many relapses. He has been in and out of rehab 3 times. But no change. He steals all the money for drugs, I am the only one working. He signs checks over to himself, returns anything I buy and uses the cash for drugs, he has pawned every valuable thing we own. Everytime he says this is the last time. I have forgiven him and given him many chances, but now I am ready for him to leave. But he won't. Can I make him leave?

Our Response:
It can be incredibly tricky to force a spouse to leave your property if they refuse to go. Your only recourse would be to seek legal advice in order to request he is officially removed by the courts. You don't say if you have children, but if you do the courts will make a judgement upon what is in your children's best interests.
DivorceResource - 3-Mar-17 @ 10:21 AM
My wife just wrote me a letter saying she wants to separate. She says if don't respond she is going to make arrangements for me to leave by the end of april. My name is not on the house, but we have children together. Can she legally have me removed from the house .
Billy - 3-Mar-17 @ 4:51 AM
My husband has been using heroin for 2 years and I have had a very hard time coping with his many relapses. He has been in and out of rehab 3 times. But no change. He steals all the money for drugs, I am the only one working. He signs checks over to himself, returns anything I buy and uses the cash for drugs, he has pawned every valuable thing we own. Everytime he says this is the last time. I have forgiven him and given him many chances, but now I am ready for him to leave. But he won't. Can I make him leave?
Broken - 2-Mar-17 @ 4:15 AM
Hi, My wife use to tell me to get out from her house (she is govt employer and the house has been alloted in her name). But from many months i was keep ignoring. every other time she use to tell the same thing in more stonger way. One day she told me you have to go from her house and i Denied. The she call 4 person from her department and all the person start saying me to leave.I told them that i will not leave without my child (only one child male 9 yrs old) I have called 100 (police) and police came and asked few question to my wife and my son. Then they told that they can not do any thing in family matter. They left. Since the examination of my son was going on. All the person who was called by my wife told me to leave the house for 15 days just think about your child future. and after 15 days all will sit and take decision. And i have left the house. I have locked one room also in the house. Can you please advise me how to proceed from here? She is also not ready to keep my father and any one can not visit as a guest to her home. She is keep saying that she can not live with me and she want me to go. What to do now?
sanj - 15-Feb-17 @ 11:37 AM
I have bought my husband out of the house and he has a charge on the property to get a % when I sell.We have a decree Nisi but no Absolute yet.Can I give him reasonable notice to leave or does he still have the right to be there?
Mel - 26-Jan-17 @ 10:44 AM
Nana - Your Question:
My daughter in law told my son she is filing for divorce this was three weeks ago due to pressure and arguments my son moved in with me two weeks ago , my son has two young sons which he hasn't seen having found out he does not have to out of the marital home , yesterday he moved back so he could see his sons , but his wife left taking the two boys with her my son does not know where is wife is staying or where his boys are what legal right has he got to know where is boys are ?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If your son's ex does not get in touch, then your son would have to apply through court for both access and for the court to put a trace on his sons. He would need a C100 form in order to apply for contact to his children and a C4 form, which is an application for an order for disclosure of a child's whereabouts. Of course, it would be a lot easier, less stressful and more cost-effective if both parents could come to an amicable agreement out of court. However, this is not always the case and your son may wish to seek some legal advice.
DivorceResource - 19-Sep-16 @ 11:49 AM
My daughterin law told my son she is filing for divorce this was three weeks ago due to pressure and arguments my son moved in with me two weeks ago , my son has two young sons which he hasn't seen having found out he does not have to out of the marital home , yesterday he moved back so he could see his sons , but his wife left taking the two boys with her my son does not know where is wife is staying or where his boys are what legal right has he got to know where is boys are ?
Nana - 18-Sep-16 @ 12:04 PM
Andy - Your Question:
My wife has had an adulterous affair after 34 years of marriage whilst I was taking care of my 91 year old mother's needs over 100 miles away for 9 days of every fortnight. The affair has been going on for only 8 weeks, but I suspect they have been communicating on facebook for around 4 years. She has suddenly decided to live a completely different bohemian life and has just moved out of the family home into rented accommodation. My question is : can she enter the jointly owned family home at will and remove property from the house? I noticed things had gone missing while I was away from the house. I don't mind her having access to the house, but I think I should be given some notice and a list of items she wishes to take beforehand.

Our Response:
I think in this case it is best to talk to your wife about this and try to come to an agreement. One option is to change the locks, but this could lead to your ex either applying through court for an occupation order, or asking the police police to accompany her to the house while she removes items that are hers. However, I imagine this might be the last approach you wish to take. If you are planning on dividing the contents of the house, then perhaps you could ask that rather than she take the items, that you both agree to split the contents between you. There are plenty of ways around it, but in answer to your initial question, yes she is allowed access to the house that is jointly owned by her, but at the same time if she is living elsewhere then she should allow some respect to your privacy and for this you'll have to ask. If she won't agree, then you may have to seek legal advice on your rights over implementing some of the more strident measures above.
DivorceResource - 6-Jun-16 @ 11:45 AM
My wife has had an adulterous affair after 34 years of marriage whilst I was taking care of my 91 year old mother's needs over 100 miles away for 9 days of every fortnight.The affair has been going on for only 8 weeks, but I suspect they have been communicating on facebook for around 4 years.She has suddenly decided to live a completely different bohemian life and has just moved out of the family home into rented accommodation.My question is : can she enter the jointly owned family home at will and remove property from the house?I noticed things had gone missing while I was away from the house.I don't mind her having access to the house, but I think I should be given some notice and a list of items she wishes to take beforehand.
Andy - 5-Jun-16 @ 10:45 AM
Dez - Your Question:
I have been separated for 4 years,we have 3 children and my wife is currently living in our 4 bedroom house,we are starting to get a divorce sorted out but I wanted my share of the house (we have a joint mortgage),she has told me she can't buy me out and she won't well sell the house,I have been renting for 3 years and I struggle from day to say,could I sell my share of the house and do you have any advice on what I can do

Our Response:
It is always difficult when children are involved as the court may rule that they can stay in the property with their mother until they come of age. I can only suggest you seek legal advice as each case is different.
DivorceResource - 1-Mar-16 @ 2:39 PM
I have been separated for 4 years,we have 3 children and my wife is currently living in our 4 bedroom house,we are starting to get a divorce sorted out but I wanted my share of the house (we have a joint mortgage),she has told me she can't buy me out and she won't well sell the house,I have been renting for 3 years and I struggle from day to say,could I sell my share of the house and do you have any advice on what i can do
Dez - 29-Feb-16 @ 8:00 PM
Hi; we were married for 50 plus years,my wife has taken me out of her will should she pass on what part of our homes and estate would i get we live apart.and the same question as I am planning on changing my will also;please advise ASAP. Thanks Ray PS. she lives in BC me in AB
none - 26-Nov-15 @ 12:14 PM
My wife is going to the legal courts through free legal aid I want to separate through our own solictors she is involved with another man for three years now they are both trying to get me out of my house it`s in both our names my wife and I, she is only going through the legal because she belives the judge will ask me to leave I don`t want to leave my home and I can`t affoerd to we have two young children will the judge tell me to leave, there has never been any trouble whatsover
none - 25-Jul-15 @ 5:56 PM
@mel - you might want to seek some legal advice on this, and perhaps get some sort of agreement drawn up. It would be better than leaving it to chance and trust as you never know what might happen.
Rich - 9-Jul-15 @ 12:28 PM
I left my marital home 5 years ago my husband lives there still we rented out privately for a year I moved back for a year to pay mortgage he wants to stay in the home but can't afford to but me out I'm happy for him to remain there until our daughter leaves education in 4 years time I'm on mortgage and still married were do I stand if I allow him to remain in the property
mel - 6-Jul-15 @ 6:06 PM
My wife has given me 4 weeks notice to get out of her house. I do not own any part of thehouseand its all in hername. I pay a substation amount each week for the morgage and house keeping by bank transfer .
Bazilbrush - 27-Jun-15 @ 4:03 AM
@linz - Regardless of the fact that your name is on the mortgage, you are still both legally married so the asset is theoretically a joint one, therefore he is entitled to reside there. The only way to legally have him removed is through negotiation or via the courts, but you would have to seek legal advice here.
Xandr - 28-May-15 @ 12:16 PM
My husband and i have been married for 4 yrs. I have lived and owned my house for 18 yrs . I have 3 children. Last yr i re mortgaged my house to pay off debts and buy new car. To get the re mortgage i had to put my husband on the deeds with a 1 % ownership of the house. Our marriage has broken down and i want him to leave but he is refusing to go. How can i legally get him to leave as 99 % of the house is mine. Very worried for me and the future for the kids
linz - 25-May-15 @ 10:08 PM
@Katherine- you might have to seek the advise of a solicitor if he categorically won't move out.
DivorceResource - 14-Oct-14 @ 3:07 PM
how do i start i have been with my partner for 31 years married for 7 it was never a happy relationship now as the older I'm getting the less i want to stay with him what i would like to know while separated from my husband i was given a housing association flat solely in my name and just over a year later i allowed my husband to move in i now know this was a mistake i have asked him many time to move out as I'm not happy and don't wanthim anymore he won't discuss our problems and does think we have a one how do i get my husband to leave as the flat is soley in my name can i change the locks regards katherine
Katherine Lamb - 14-Oct-14 @ 1:40 PM
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